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Hachi: A Dog’s Tale

“Hachi: A Dog’s Tale” (or “Hachiko: A Dog’s Story” in some versions) is one of my favorite films of 2009. It is a remake of the 1987 Japanese movie entitled “Hachikō Monogatari”. Both films are based on the true story of a faithful dog named Hachiko. It was directed by Lasse Hallstrom and starred Richard Gere, Joan Allen and Sarah Roemer.

The movie begins with a boy named Ronnie telling the class about his hero – Hachiko, his grandfather’s dog. Years before, an Akita puppy is sent from Japan to United States but his cage fell off at an American train station. Incidentally, college professor Parker Wilson founds him, instantly loves him, and takes him home. Despite his wife’s resistance in the beginning, the family keeps the dog. Being a warrior dog which is not into pleasing human, Hachiko refuses dog-like things such as chasing and retrieving a dog. Still, a special connection exists between Parker and Hachi. Few years later, the two are as close as ever. One morning, Parker leaves for work and Hachi sneaks out from home, follows Parker, and waits until the train leaves. That afternoon, Hachi sneaks out again and waits for Parker at the train station. This has eventually become an everyday habit – Hachi fetching and waiting for Parker at the station. Then one day, Hachi suddenly chases after Parker with a ball in his mouth. Parker is surprised and pleased with it, and for a while, they played ball at the station. Parker, however, still reports for school. That afternoon, Hachi waits at the station. No Parker comes. The next day, he waits again. And then the day after… and after that… and after… For the next nine years, Hachi waits for his master’s return. But Parker will never return; he died the day they played ball for the first time…

This movie is straightforward, but very moving and heartbreaking. I did not know about the film until my students introduced it to me. I watched it alone on my computer, I was teary-eyed. I watched it again with my niece and nephews, I was still teary-eyed, and the kids were crying.

What makes the movie beautiful is its simplicity and relevance. Almost everybody has a pet. But with pet or none, everyone is need of that someone, or friend, who will love and show us great loyalty despite our shortcomings. Yet, a human friend sometimes finds faults in us. We simply need “someone” who can make us real special, whom who we can share our life with, in silence or chaos or trouble, without fears of being judged and neglected.

Richard Gere is also superb in his acting, very effortless. He is the best in his generation. Presently, the film holds 85% “fresh rating” from the Rotten Tomatoes community.

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